Time and again, the question arises in the area of computer game tenants whether game rules are protected or whether one should “copy” them. The answer of a lawyer is “It depends”.
In principle, rules of the game are not protected. However, the concrete results of a game, such as names, graphics, texts, setting, possibly color design and the like are protected – usually . Also can be protected, but here it is details that matter when someone slavishly imitates things and only changes graphics, sound and name of the game.
If you want to protect your own game idea, you should definitely work with a lawyer here. Many details and specific circumstances are important here, not only because patent protection is generally out of the question. At least not in Germany. At best, protection is possible as “design”, formerly known as a design.
Copyright can also be common here, because most of them do not protect individual rules. However, the whole of the rules of the game may be different. There is also relevant case law on this. It should be noted, of course, that things such as the description of the rules of the game do indeed enjoy copyright protection and, for example, in board games other rights cards may also be relevant if the copy is the design of the playing cards, the game plan or other graphic designs.
Finally, of course, protection by trade mark law and, in certain circumstances, also protection by the UWG must also be considered. In the case of the latter, however, more extensive elements are necessary in order to be injured.
If you want to develop your own game, be it a board game or a computer game, and fear that it has similarities to an existing product, the principles apply in principle. An idea is never protected, only the concrete execution and thus also a set of rules of the game and principles of the game.
For these very reasons, however, the pitching of games by developers at a publisher using a prototype is also very critical. It is important to pay attention to clear contracts before the pitch or to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the new Trade Secrets Act. A notarial deposit of the rules and rules could also be helpful in order to be able to prove the exact content later on.